Online master's degree programs in library media, also called school library information specialist programs, are relatively easy to find. Though the coursework is primarily available over the Web, some on-campus work may be required in the beginning to familiarize students with library media technology. These programs are designed for teachers certified to work in the public school system. The exact regulations for working as a public school information specialist vary by state.
Those who don't intend to work in schools may want to consider an online Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree program, both of which are readily available. Some states require professional certification for working in a public library; learn the regulations in your state before choosing an educational program.
|Online Availability||Fully online|
|Online Requirements||May include the ability to view and burn DVDs, Microsoft Office, photo or movie editing software; external memory devices are recommended|
|In-Person Requirements||Some on-campus work may be required in addition to an on-campus orientation|
Master's Degree for Media Specialists
A media specialist plans and coordinates the audio, visual and communication technology for presentations, lectures, classes, meetings and conferences. While media specialists may also work in marketing, journalism and many other industries, current graduate level programs are available online only for prospective library media specialists. Library media specialists are teachers who specialize in multimedia equipment and programs for education, meaning these programs primarily lead to master's degrees in education.
Program Information and Requirements
Library media specialist master's programs can typically be completed within two years for full-time students. Students are evaluated for knowledge and media proficiency through written exams and electronic portfolios that include course projects. Classes require on-time correspondence with instructors and scheduled deadlines for coursework. Some schools require media specialist students to attend an on-campus orientation to become familiar with the advisors, instructors and expectations for online distance learning programs.
Technical requirements include reliable and regular access to high-speed Internet. Because students must submit an electronic portfolio of their projects, external memory devices are recommended. Some classes require the ability to view and burn DVDs. Useful software includes Microsoft Office as well as photo editing and movie editing programs. Email is a common way for students to interact with instructors and classmates, though some schools also utilize online forums.
Common Online Media Specialist Courses
Online library media specialist training covers advanced methods for using computers, networks and the Web. Students who are not already comfortable with current computers, software and the Internet must take additional computer courses. Since library media specialists are often working in schools, master's programs contain classes on educational psychology and age-appropriate learning materials.
Issues In Educational Media Course
This course covers the history and development of communication and information technology and the effect on education. Legal topics, including censorship and intellectual property are also discussed.
Research and Information Sources
Students learn to utilize and evaluate electronic and print references. This course outlines productive search techniques and how to aid others in doing research.
Media Resource Administration
This course discusses the methods for efficiently managing multi-media equipment for a school and creating a complete library media center. Topics include budgeting, needs assessment and event programming.
Creating Instructional Media
In addition to presenting instructional media, library media specialists occasionally have to produce educational material. This course trains students in media technology such as digital cameras, photo and video editing software, web-page development and graphic design programs.
Graduates with a master's degree in library media may be qualified for teaching and library positions in public and private educational institutions and libraries. These positions frequently require that students receive additional certification or licensure.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2010 that 38% of librarians worked for elementary and secondary schools; 29% were employed by local government, and 17% of librarians were employed by colleges, universities and professional schools. According to a July 2015 report by Payscale.com, school library media specialists earned between $28,258 and $72,621 annually.
Licensing and Continuing Education Information
A master's degree in library media does not include teacher's certification. To become a media specialist for K-12 schools, a teaching license may be required from the state. Each state has its own particular requirements for teacher certification. Graduate students are encouraged, although not required, to gain their teaching license before enrolling in a master's program for library media specialists.
A few schools offer online library media specialist endorsement programs. Endorsements are certifications for instructors in specialized subject areas. Since endorsements are added to existing degrees and licenses, an endorsement program can be completed in only one year.